How to attract bees to your garden
NEWS FLASH: bees need our help.
Humans have done a pretty good job of making life hard for bees; we’ve destroyed habitats and food supplies so it’s up to us to help them out. The thing is, the future of our planet relies on a healthy supply of bees and other pollinators, so it really is in our best interests to give them what they need to survive.
And guess what? It doesn’t matter whether you have a huge rambling garden or a tiny little window box, you can do your bit to attract bees and other pollinators and help turn this crisis into a big win for our buzzy friends.
Why are pollinators important to plants?
The truth is that bees and other pollinators are vital to the survival of our planet. They do an important job in making sure plants fruit, set seed and breed. This not only helps to keep whole ecosystems healthy, it provides food and habitat to other animals, and it also makes sure that we humans have enough food to survive.
But here’s the thing: bees and other pollinators are in crisis. Over the past 60 years, many hedgerows and wildflower meadows have been cut back. The use of pesticides and intensive farming has also damaged bee populations.
The result: 13 of Britain’s bees are now extinct, with 35 other species under threat of becoming extinct.
But not all is lost – there’s still time to act! If we all do something to turn our gardens and windowsills into bee buffets, we can provide them with the food sources, shelter and nesting places they need to thrive.
How do plants attract pollinators?
Let’s talk about what we mean by “pollinators”.
Pollinators are creatures that move from one flower to another, bringing pollen to ensure the next generation of that plant. Well-known pollinators include bumblebees, wasps, butterflies, and even birds and bats. In fact, because the wind blows pollen from one plant to another, it is technically a pollinator too!
Plants play an essential role in this by attracting pollinators using bright coloured flowers and strong alluring scents. They lure the pollinator in, and the pollen gets attached to its body and is transported to another plant where the pollen falls off and helps that plant to breed.
This delicate balance between flora and fauna helps keep natural ecosystems going. But with so much of our pollinators’ natural habitat being destroyed, what can we do to help?
Plant bee-friendly plants
What kind of plants should you use to increase the chances of bees coming to your garden?
First of all, bees LOVE herbs. Rosemary, chives, and sage are all easy plants to take care of, and even better, you get to use them in your summer salads!
Other plants bees love are lavender, honeysuckle and buddleia, all of which are relatively low-maintenance, whilst providing a beautiful range of colours to your outdoor space.
Try larger plants like abelia (“bee bush”) that flower in Autumn, or cherry or birch trees for a Summer win. That is if you have the space.
If you don’t have a garden at all, then how about a window box bursting with your favourite herbs or a balcony full of flower pots?
Here’s more from Maddie Moate about building a bee cafe to provide needed stops between the huge spaces we have created between pollinator crops:
Build a bee hotel!
This is where the fun begins!
A bee hotel is a fab way to bring solitary bees into your garden. All you need are a couple of plastic bottles, some sandpaper, a craft knife, some twine and some garden clippers, and before you know it, your garden will be bee party central!
If a bee hotel is a bit of you, check out the full instructions from the Friends of the Earth website.
Give your pollinators some food and drink
Like any creature, bees need a balanced diet to help them provide nectar or pollen. If you’ve followed our planting guide above, you’ll have provided a range of plants to feed on.
But water is also important. They collect water in the summer months to help make food for their young and to keep the hive cool and humid.
If you don’t have a pond, keep a tray out in your garden to collect rainwater, leaving a few stones in the tray for the bees to perch on while they drink.
Brilliant Bees Nature Science Kit
The Bee Box was created in collaboration with The Bumblebee Conservation Trust and 50p from the sale of every Box goes towards their efforts to protect Bumblebees! We learned so much while putting it together, and we hope you love learning about Bees too!
🐝 Bee B&B: Attract more Bumblebees to wild spaces near you! Create a specially designed Bumblebee B&B
🌼 Flower Power: Design flowers with the juiciest, most attractive pollen and find out how Bees navigate!
🦋 Pollinate (Jumbo/Tots only): Pollination is what keeps our food cycle going so bees are pretty darn important!
🌾 Seedy Socks (Jumbo/Tots only): What seeds are in your area? Are they good for pollinators and can you make some grow?
🔎 A chunky magnifying glass to get a closer look at those bugs and beasties in nature* Jumbo/Tots